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Reviews of the latest music releases
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away ****
This rich and complex offering is the 15th studio album Cave and his multi-talented cohorts have recorded since they began operations in London three decades ago.
The contents capture the Antipodean alternative rock balladeer at his most haunting and world-weary, with some splendid violin work from Warren Ellis underpinning Water's Edge, one of the CD's stand-out tracks alongside Jubilee Street and the eerily malevolent We No Who U R.
Released on February 18th (Bad Seed Ltd. : £10.00)
Various Artists, Folk Awards 2013 ****
The future of British roots music is in safe hands on the elequent evidence presented by this new three-record set.
The appearance of these anthologies has become an annual event on the folk calendar, and 2013's offering serves up two discs showcasing artists who've been nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and a bonus CD featuring a string of aspiring young folkies.
Fine performers such as Bellowhead, Gilmore and Roberts and Karine Polwart all make telling contributions to the proceedings, and the great Nic Jones chips in with a touching live rendition of Randy Newman's Texas Girl At The Funeral of Her Father.
Released on January 28th (Proper PROPERFOLK 14 : £8.00)
David Courtney, Midsummer Madness/Shooting Star ***
Singer-songwriter Courtney may be best remembered these days for the work that he did with artists such as Adam Faith and Leo Sayer in the early 1970s but this slick tunesmith also enjoyed a solo career of sorts during the same period, although these easy-on-the-ear recordings never actually saw the light of day at the time."
Midsummer Madness and Shooting Star date from 1976 and 1980 respectively, with the members of Argent (minus Rod Argent himself) operating as Courtney's highly impressive backing band on the earlier offering, which is much the better of the two albums.
Out now (Angel Air SJPCD 409 : £9.38)
Clelia Iruzun, Federico Mompou: Selected Works Vol.1 ****
The first CD in a new series of recordings from the young Brazilian pianist Clelia Iruzun explores some of the most evocative and enticing keyboard works penned by Federico Mompou.
The great Catalan composer's name has become synonymous with delicate, simply expressed piano music and some fine examples of Mompou's thoughtful style are featured here, including Impresiones Intimas and Variations on a theme of Chopin.
Out now (SOMMCD 0121 : £10.50)
Ben Harper, Get Up! ****
This vibrant collection finds Harper working in tandem with veteran blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite, re-igniting an intermittent partnership which first sparked into life when the two men played together on a John Lee Hooker session in 1997.
Charlie's urgent harmonica work lends an air of authenticity to a package which channels the spirit of the blues at its most visceral and uncompromsing, with I Ride At Dawn and I'm In, I'm Out And I'm Gone capturing the duo's collaboration at its brilliant best.
Released on February 4th (Stax / Decca Records : £10.99)